Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Two by Two

'The Welsh Indy'

This weekend was a really strange one, absolutely no plans whatsoever to do anything. In fact a completely free Saturday and then a last minute walk planned on the Sunday. Well only half last minute, if indeed you can have half a last minute, not much time for shagging, drinking champagne and smoking a last cigar though. Anyway the culmination of all of this was back to plan A from last week (which Craig was due to walk) which was substituted for a last minute plan B. Even at this point I knew that plan C was going to end up being plan A and I even did some pre prep for it by running off an alternative route. Which in fact makes Plan C above Plan D, and the alternative route which was pre prepared plan C. Excellent well that’s all clear.

So the plan …..Meet Shad..... a different friend, but with even less ability to sell second hand cars (see the photo) and yes he did buy a gold BMW …..The shame of it.

Then to climb 'The Cloud’ near ‘Beartown’.

I've revised this bit thoroughly, the explanation goes, that back in the really old days (not to be confused with 70’s and 80’s nostalgia – which has frankly had its time) all real towns used to have a bear. It’s a bit like football now but clearly far more fun. The town dancing bear used to lead the big town party celebrations twice a year and then everyone learned to binge drink on local cider. Then one year (about 1610) Congleton’s bear dropped dead about a week before the party. If it was modern days you would have had at least 50 townsfolk dress up as bears and dance the night away, but back in those days without a bear you would be known as ‘craptown’. Now the bit I think most fair minded people will approve of, the happy party people of Congleton, swapped all the money they had been saving for a new town bible for Nantwich's bear…the party continued and Congleton became known as Beartown. Nantwich on the other hand became pretty dull and has no taxi’s on a Tuesday.

The Cloud is a proper hill in that its on the edge of the Southern Pennines and at 310m above sea level is over 1000ft.

A rather good poem - good last verse

I no I r a scientist but I’m allowed to read.

I think the Beartown theme and Shad being brought up in the countryside lead to a rather odd animal theme in this walk. We met at the station bang on the dot of 10am as agreed; in fact we both arrived at 1 minute to 10am. I can predict now that it won’t be this perfect next week.

Never to be a Craig substitute, but I just knew Shad would be the part and as he stepped from the car he was….like an Indiana Jones for the 21st century. ‘All the gear no idea’ his words not mine. I loved the liquid carrier backpack…I normally carry a bottle of water…Shad’s leaked in the first 50 yards. My old style cheap plastic bottle worked a treat.

After a bit of faffing mainly by me we set of on our 7 mile round trip, a bit of a walk by the canal, up a small hill, and a quick climb up the main hill, back down and home for lunch. Clearly that didn’t quite happen. We ended doing the entire first bit as planned and then decided we had loads of time so we would walk the second well known hill in the area Mow Cop. Even this was a sound plan, if it hadn’t been 7 miles away. We’ll get to Mow Cop later but the main event was all animal.

Just as we were setting off, a rather large Buzzard flew overhead which set the tone for the day as Shad asked ‘how do Eagles kill deer’. This then lead to a ‘what’s the most dangerous animal’ (English animal that we may see) conversation.

I quite like lists and scoring things and I suddenly pictured this as a yet to be invented pack of Top Trumps (70’s nostalgia).

Some of the animals / things seen and considered

Horses – were my obvious number one choice, danger factor 9/10. Teeth, hooves x4, running and barging ability, height and bulk, trample coefficient etc.

Shads response to this was Geese – danger factor 4/10 although one of us reckoned they have been known to eat small children. Honking, pecking and swooping ability. Further research among young children had moved the danger factor up to 6/10

Swans- 7/10 big angry geese

Sheep – 2/10 unless dropped on you

Llama – yes we saw these too 4/10 they are really just big sheep with a bit of a good spit on them

Staffordshire Bull terriers – 9/10 and for all the obvious reasons, but mainly because they are just mad. It would have scored ten but the one we saw was called flower! Unless that’s what the bloke shouts to his Mrs when he wants her to follow him.

Kestrels 4/10. lots of swooping, pecking and talon ability on offer but a bit bloomin timid when faced with anything sizeable…although again one of us claims to have seen a kestrel run off with a squirrel. (in an 'I’m going to eat you' fashion rather than nipping to Gretna)

Badgers 8/10. This is a late entry again on further discussion. Described as ‘just as vicious as polar bears’. Although given a choice I think I’d rather face a badger in a bare pawed duel. Anyway as ‘one of us’ knew.....if you tuck your trousers in your socks and fill your trousers with nuts, the badger with stop biting you as he thinks the nuts cracking are actually your bones. Yeah thanks Indy.

Moles 2/10 and ok we only saw the mole hills but Shads grandfathers job was ‘the village mole catcher’……really. Catching moles has a special technique which is top secret so I can’t disclose it but; the best time to catch them is 5pm, you need salt and some sort of box. Any suggestions as to how these three facts work in harmony would be good.

Holly Bushes – 3/10 absolute gits at close quarters but not that mobile. However double points if played after dark.

Giant Panda - 1/10 mainly because we didnt see one, but there was a huge field of cane growing in the oddest of places

Mushroom Trees - 5/10 we did see one of these, but I think you would need to be drunk before eating the shrooms and they would probably be deadly hence the 5/10

Other animals seen but not discussed in too much detail, Bumblebees (nice wasps) Cows (stupid) Goats (don’t fall asleep in clothes next to them), Herons (friendly), Zebra,Giraffe,Warthog,Tiger and Mountain Lion….just look at the pictures. And the birds, Sparrow hawk, Wrens and Jays.

As a final conclusion on this, I still think that horse are the Ferrari V12 of the Animal top trumps and will only be defeated by something crap like a rabbit with a twin wankel engine. (detail 70’s nostalgia)

We made it up the first hill with barely a problem except the view of the Cheshire plain as promised in the guidebook was obscured by the low clouds, or was the hill just very high. Photos taken and trig post climbed we headed off to Mow Cop and the Old man of Mow.

It had rained a lot and we spent most of the next 7 miles slipping and sliding on mud, trees and even wet roads, so much so that we almost became Cheshire Inuit. I’m not sure how true it is that Inuit have 25 words for snow but we certainly had 10 words for sliding in a 70’s schoolboy sort of way. Heelies, Double Heelies, short sidies, inside sidies, toe catch, fronty and double foot and’ double inside sidie’ although only once as it was almost fatal. You should hear my marbles repertoire it’s legendary.

We did have a short stop in a pleasant pub called The Cross Lanes, where we checked directions, had a swift half and then Shad even outdid Craig’s dietary habits by ordering a packet of pork scratchings for Sunday lunch!!!!

It was a long walk up to the Folly at Mow Cop which was actually a Sunday House for some posh nitwits back in the old days in Cheshire. or as Wikipedia would say;

‘At over 1000 feet above sea level Mow Cop is one of most instantly recognisable features in the area. Mow Cop Castle was a folly built by Randle Wilbraham in 18th century.’

Still it was a great view, particularly if you jumped over the fence which said don’t go past this point.
The Old Man of Mow round the corner is really very odd and well worth seeing as it does have a ‘what the heck’ factor. It’s a huge outcrop of stone which from some angles looks like a miserable old bloke.
Just for reference you can actually drive to these things but the 14 mile treck here was also ok!. We were now pretty tired and had a five mile walk back, but at least it was downhill and along a flat canal. Except it was very very muddy all the way and as our legs started doing impressions of Bambi on ice we had to criss cross canal on bridges to keep on the path. There was plenty more sliding including seeing the evidence of a fabled double heely. The other top thing that happened is that we watched a Heron ‘hunt’ (stand still and stick its neck out) and then catch a fish…good thing to see.

Near the end we were pretty knackered and I think the bloke who collared us to help him park his canal boat was nearly chucked in the canal as he faffed for 10 minutes while we held ropes. I dropped mine in the mud a few times just to see how loud I could get him to tut.

Still the cold Magners in the pub was nothing short of spectacular and we did feel pretty pleased with ourselves.
And some more photos

Next weeks plan is a short walk round Malham, can’t possibly go wrong.

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